9-1-1, What’s Your Emergency?

Summer Nietz, Writer

Pew-pew. Pew-pew! The sound drifted through the streets and recoiled off the buildings.  We gazed up at the dark sky, illuminated by artificial light from skyscrapers, bars, and diners. Our minds consume–Where are the fireworks coming from? Are those even fireworks? Seconds after the popping stopped, people scrambled from the street toward facilities still open for the night. 

Kailey, the driver and church small group leader, hollered out the window to those still in the street,  ̈Why are you running?¨ 

Nobody bothered answering. They were too busy fleeing for their lives.

1:00 A.M: Our church small group of six gathers around the couch, thinking of things to do to shake up our night. Taylor suggests going to downtown Minneapolis to people-watch. We all agree and bundle into the car; Taylor and Faith lift the hatchback and hop into the back. Nelly Furtado´s “Promiscuous” shakes the car and all our cares dwindle. 

1:30 A.M:  Reaching the city we crank the windows down. Bustling streets, beeping cars, fighting bar patrons, and electronic music surround us. Street after street we drive, watching the nightlife start to disperse onto the sidewalks. Slight winds bring a nice breeze into the car, everyone bears a  grin, we soak up the fun while police horses trot by. 

2:00 A.M: Stopped at 7th and Washington, we hear gunshots. People bolt for their lives as we sit at the stoplight, preparing to turn down the street the shots came from. Hairs erect on our necks and arms, cars a mile deep, there is no way of getting out of turning toward the potential crime scene. Green light. Kailey slowly turns on 7th street. I catch a glimpse of a figure, almost dummy-like, sprawled in the open front door of a Honda Civic. Blood stains the white T-shirt on his lifeless body. Sirens echo toward us and we speed past the scene, realizing too late that our only way out requires us to drive through various one-ways that only take us in a circle. Left after left, we end up where we began. In disbelief all we could do is nervously chuckle, we just saw a shot human being. Taylor and Faith still in the back of the car; pull blankets over themselves as a cover due to the police presence on every street. A surge rushes through my heart and head. 

Hoping to stay in the chaos longer and chase the thrill of it all, we beg to continue, “Can we circle around the scene just one more time? Please!¨

Kailey yells from the front, “What? So you can tell your parents that your small group leader took you downtown at 2 am and you saw someone who got shot? Yeah, hell no.” 

We all sulk in our seats. Awaiting the turn to take us to the highway, we see two ambulances: one with a person in a body bag and another with a bunch of hammered people gathered around it, searching for their sick friend.  The sight of paramedics and other first responders hustling through the intense situations, made me restless. I wanted to do something. 

3:00 A.M: With a sigh of relief, we arrive home, rehashing endlessly what had just happened. Wanting to know more about the situation, we Google police reports in that area and time. Nothing comes up. I stare at the ceiling for a few minutes: the situation running through my brain. How would I have helped? After years stressing about what I wanted to do as a career, did I just figure it out in the most random experience of my life? 

8:00 A.M: Waking up the next morning, we search again through the internet, hoping for any news on what we saw. We find out the man, in his late thirties, died from a bullet to the chest. We realize that we saw a real dead body. In addition, I realize that my future career could be within the medical field.